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Lumbar Facet Joint Block

The facets are the small, bony joints that connect the spine’s vertebrae. Each vertebral segment has two facet joints, one on each side. The lumbar facet joints guide motion in the lower back. These joints provide stability and control but also allow for motion in the spine, so that you can bend and twist.

Just as a joint in your finger, knee, or hip can cause you discomfort, so can the facet joints in your neck and back. They can become arthritic or injured, causing pain. Pain that is mostly in the back and with a less specific, vague aching in the legs (one or both) may be coming from one or more of these small joints in the lumbar (lower back) area.

The goal of facet joint injections is to decrease pain and inflammation in the facet joints by injecting a steroid (a strong anti-inflammatory medicine) into the joint.

Overview of the lumbar facet joint injection procedure

 Here’s what to expect during a lumbar facet joint injection procedure:

The steroid usually starts to work two days to two weeks after the injection. The pain relief varies for each individual, from no relief to long-term pain relief. Patients can have up to four steroid injections per year, depending on their other health problems or steroid injections into different areas of the body.

 Preparing for the facet joint injection

Possible side effects of the steroid

Side effects of steroid injections are usually minimal and go away within one to three days after the procedure. Possible side effects of the steroid include:

After the facet joint injection

Remember that your usual pain may go away for a few hours, but after the local anesthetic wears off, it is normal for your pain to return. The full effects of the steroid may take two days to two weeks to work, and its lasting effects vary from person to person. You may also have some temporary discomfort at the puncture site.

Potential risks of facet joint injections

The risks of facet joint injections are minimal and are similar to any procedure involving a needle placement. These include, but are not limited to:

If your procedure includes sedation

Summit Orthopedics offers comprehensive spine expertise

Summit’s spine care team is recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance for the comprehensive expertise of our patient-centered care. Our back specialists diagnose spine problems and design custom treatment plans built on a conservative, nonsurgical approach. Most patients find relief through treatments including guided injections, specialized physical therapy, biofeedback, exercise, activity modification, and medication. When conservative care does not relieve symptoms, our highly skilled surgeons offer proven, evidence-based surgical options. Together with you, we will determine the right course of action.

Start your journey to a healthy spine. Find your spine expert, request an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a spine consultation.

Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MNVadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.

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